Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Jonathan A. King ─ Invest in Minds Not Missiles

Friday, November 15, 2019

5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum, 111 Thayer Street

The clearest expression of the nation’s values and priorities are embodied in the federal budget. The growth of higher education and university-based scientific research in the U.S. after WWII has been critically dependent on federal investments, voted annually as part of the Congressional discretionary budget. In recent years more than 55% of this budget – our income taxes – has been spent on war and weapons purchase accounts. President Trump’s proposed budgets depended on major cuts in key programs supporting education and research – including NIH, NSF, EPA, and NOAA - in order to fund a 10% increase in military spending. The Congress has maintained the excessive military spending, currently debating an appropriation between $738 billion (House) and $750 billion (Senate). This will bring the fraction of our tax dollars spent on preparation for war to more than 60% of the total Congressional budget. Many of the weapons program –such as the proposed $1.7 trillion dollar nuclear weapons “modernization” - are provocative and destabilizing, more likely to decrease national security than increase it. They represent essentially the business plan of the military/industrial complex. The excessive costs will greatly weaken programs addressing civilian needs. One step in the solution is to cancel or sharply reduce the proposed nuclear weapons upgrades.

Jonathan A. King is a professor of molecular biology at MIT and a co-chair of Massachusetts Peace Action.

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